creed review


Careful Continuity

In the realistic, down-to-earth and thoroughly human world of Creed, the events of the most ludicrous Rocky movies still happened. Nowhere does the movie say Rocky didn’t defeat Communism. Nowhere does the movie pretend Rocky V simply didn’t happen. In fact, Apollo’s fateful boxing match with Ivan Drago is a key plot point in Creed, although that entirely preposterous sequence doesn’t align with what we see in the new film at all.

Creed walks a very fine line in being respectful to the fans who love the sequels (and there are a bunch of you) and those who can’t help but roll their eyes when they think about Rocky sharing the ring with Hulk Hogan. The tone may be classic Rocky, but the movie refuses to undo continuity. This isn’t one of those irritating reboots that picks and chooses which movies it wants to consider canon. To Creed and Coogler, it all happened. It’s all history. What the film chooses to recall, and what you choose to remember, are vital parts of the experience.

Plus, how the film handles the biggest unanswered question in the entire Rocky saga is nothing short of perfect.

Noteworthy Adversaries and Allies

Creed is going to finally transform Michael B. Jordan into the movie star that fans of The Wire and Friday Night Lights have known he was destined to become. It’s going to get a lot of movie fans re-evaluating Stallone once more. However, the movie exists beyond these two actors and the bench is strong.

As Bianca, Adonis’ downstairs neighbor and eventual love interest, Tessa Thompson is a revelation. Smart and tough and vulnerable, she’s not just another Adrian. She’s an artist, a successful musician whose relationship with Adonis is born out of respect and mutual attraction. She has agency – Coogler never reduces her to just another face cheering on our hero in the big final fight. This is a tricky part to play and when you think of the boxer’s girlfriend in a boxing movie, you probably have a very specific image in your head. Bianca does not match that mold. Her dynamic with Adonis messy and real and genuinely moving because it refuses to sugarcoat their relationship.

Similarly, the film’s villains are given more dimensions than you’d expect. Hell, they’re not even villains. They’re not setting out to specifically destroy Adonis or Rocky. They’re not out to crush Democracy. They’re not cartoon characters. They’re fleshed out just enough to let you understand that they have a reason to fight. Like Adonis himself, the men he faces in the ring didn’t get here by chance or luck. They’re here because they earned it and they have something to fight for. By lending even the supporting cast a shred of humanity, Creed becomes a more nuanced and satisfying film.

Continue Reading: Why ‘Creed’ Is Just So Damn Good >>

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About the Author

Jacob Hall is the managing editor of /Film, with previous bylines all over the Internet. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, his pets, and his board game collection.